Confusing Words Clarified: Group A; Homonyms, Homophones, Homographs, Synonyms, Polysemes, etc.
(lists of "A" sections that are organized into what for some people are confusing groups of words)
English can be very confusing; for example, a house burns up as it burns down, a form is being filled in as it is being filled out, and an alarm goes off by going on. How about when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible?
As you examine the groups of words in this unit, you will find many examples of confusions; sometimes, just one or two letters in a word can change its meaning completely. There are also times when two different words get confused because their meanings apply to things that are very similar.
Efforts have been made to help you grasp the meanings of various words that may be confusing so you can utilize them with greater accuracy in your communication.
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome by writing to: E-mail Contact (just click it for an e-mail form) or by typing, firstname.lastname@example.org, as the address in your e-mail heading.
If you have any problems understanding the pronunciation symbols, go to this Pronunciation Chart for clarifications.
The teacher allowed us to leave school early.2. Allocated, granted, provided: Have you allowed yourself at least an hour to get to the airport?
The ancients were in the habit of reading aloud even when they were alone.
People are not allowed to speak aloud in the school library.
2. Difficult to find or to capture: The truth is proving to be elusive.
While Mathew was lost in the desert, he saw an illusive oasis known as a mirage.
Ed made an allusive comment about the illusive nature of his new novel which was intended to be delusive, creating an elusive sense of reality and confusing the readers.
Catherine knelt at the altar to pray.
2. To castrate or to spay an animal; such as, a cat or a dog: The family dog was taken to the animal center so the vet could alter it.
The minister wanted to alter the church altar before the next worship service.
The awning had alternate red and white stripes.
If Vernon wants to get to Los Angeles by tonight, he has no alternative but to go by plane.
The two words have quite separate and distinct meanings: alternate implies the taking of turns, while alternative implies a choice.
Let's not blow alternately hot and cold on this; the alternative to holding the line is fuzziness of meanings.
Stacy's parents were alumni of the same college, graduating at different years.
Darren's mother was an alumna (1934) and she often got together for lunch with her fellow alumnae.
Monica's father was an alumnus (1935) whose fellow alumni would get together occasionally to go to football games.
An amateur shouldn't play professional poker for high stakes.
Steve's father was an amateur gardener who readily admitted he was a neophyte, really just a tyro, when it came to raising certain bulbs; however, he carefully studied the armature of the corm of each of the species before planting them.
Additional clarifications regarding amateur, neophyte, novice, and tyro
Amateur, the most widely used of these four terms, is applied to someone who follows or pursues any art, study, or other activity simply from the love of doing it.
In certain activities; especially, sports, an amateur is anyone who, regardless of excellence, receives no payment for his or her performance: Alice played as an amateur for five years before becoming a professional.
Neophyte also refers to a beginner (novice, tyro), but the term is usually applied to a recent church convert; especially, to a novice in a religious order and to a recently ordained priest.
A novice is a beginner, a person new to any field or activity: Some young brides are novices when it comes to housekeeping.
Tyro is closely related in meaning to novice; because it refers to someone who is inexperienced: James was a tyro during his first weeks at training camp.
An amateur may be skilled and even experienced, but neophytes, novices, and tyros never are. A neophyte, novice, or tyro may be a professional, but an amateur never is.
2. The linguistic process by which a word over a period of time grows more elevated in meaning or more positive in connotation: The word "nice" has gone through the process of melioration because it formerly meant "foolish".
2. The process by which the meaning of a word becomes negative or less elevated over a period of time: The word "silly", which formerly meant "deserving sympathy, helpless, or simple", has gone through pejoration, resulting in the meanings of "showing a lack of good sense, frivolous".
Some would say that the process of the melioration of English vocabulary is balanced with the process of pejoration, because words become more elevated in meaning; while other words become less so; however, the amelioration of the situation is helped by the use of new dictionaries.
Dale was sincerely trying to amend his bad habits.2. To change, to revise, to modify: The members of the club voted to amend the constitution.
The editor thought it was necessary to emend the punctuation in the author's essay.
The professor wanted to emend the essay she was reading and suggested that the author amend the research and submit the essay again.
Gail's brother, Luis, has an amiable personality.
Amiable is more often used to describe people and amicable to describe actions, gestures, etc.
Examples include: The next-door neighbors are amiable people.
The union and the company reached an amicable settlement in their contract dispute.
Because Juanita approached her new, amiable neighbors with an open mind and a plate of muffins, they were able to reach an amicable solution to building a new fence.
"It's a mistake to ignore the lethal enmity between Bin Laden and Hamas."
Erica agrees that a universal amity is to be desired; however, she is afraid that there is a sense of distrust and enmity among too many governments.
In addition to partial amnesia, the patient at the hospital suffered aphasia which impeded his recovery from the accident he suffered last year.
2. In the midst of; surrounded by: Jill and Jim were going for a long walk among the trees.
3. In the company of; in association with: Ana was traveling among a group of tourists.
2. Also applicable to two or more when the items are distinctly separate: The car was driven between several houses before it came to a stop.
3. Intermediate to, as in quantity, amount, or degree: Angie found that the books cost between fifteen and twenty dollars.
4. Often used to express a reciprocal relationship: Shawn will have to choose between riding and walking.
Megan and Esther were among a large group of visitors who walked between the monuments at the ancient church.
2. Not caring about right and wrong: The governor has a cynical and amoral way of striving to increase his personal political objectives.
The owner of the business felt that he was justified in firing the drug dealer because drug dealing is an immoral activity.
Dale was amoral in his attitude according to the head of the company; especially, since he was unmoral as revealed by his on-the-job behavior.
2. Confused, muddled, bewildered: The wine left Chad somewhat bemused.
The people were greatly amused by the antics of the animals in the field, then they became quite bemused when for no apparent reason the creatures suddenly ran and hid in their holes.